How to depict violence
There is a spoiler alert for the Amazon show Invincible, assuming you are not exposed to its memes.
I genuinely don’t mind about the presence of violence in arts and entertainment. My problem lies on how it is being depicted.
For one, it is obvious many in the creative industry are either too lazy or too incompetent to depict violence off-screen. I prefer the violence to be insinuated and having a greater focus on the aftermath. I am sure even adequately diligent and skilled filmmakers are able to create such scenes.
But, I won’t dwell too much on the undisguised depiction. As much as I love complaining about it, I am still able to tolerate the lack of subtlety. What I don’t tolerate is the trivialisation.
Here’s the thing about trauma: literally anything can traumatise you. Something does not have to be violent or injurious to be traumatic. It can be so by simply being significantly bad in your life.
And yet, most entertainment works love depicting violence as something which won’t traumatise us, as something we can brush off easily.
Even in superhero stories, I find that problematic. Yes, superheroes have superhuman physical strength. But, immunity from mental disorders is never explicitly mentioned.
I make a big deal out of this because we are accustomed to perceive mental disorders as either weaknesses or things we choose to suffer from. The fact that the media we consume do the same thing means our false perception is constantly being affirmed. It certainly does not help that many characters in our favourite entertainment are relatable, even those who are not (fully) human beings.
Even if they don’t or won’t suffer mentally, at least mention how desensitised they have or will become.
Oh, and there is a reason why I mentioned superheroes and non-human characters.
Recently, I have been watching clips (no, not entire episodes) of Invincible; if it wasn’t for a comic book nerd friend of mine, I would have never heard of the show.
Just by watching the snippets, I cannot help but feeling impressed. The voice acting performance is great, it is emotionally impactful and the inclusion of humour is seamless (love the scene where our protagonist almost catches his parents “doing it”).
And then, there are the scenes the show is infamous for.
Disappointed that Mark is too soft, his father “toughens” him up by using his body to mutilate innocent people. When the method fails, his dad beats him literally almost to death.
Mark ends up hospitalised for two weeks and is obviously saddened by his father’s betrayal. But, there are no indications of impending psychological trauma.
I don’t know why. But, if it wasn’t for the show’s existence, I would have never thought about this.
There are indeed exceptions. But, they are too rare for my liking.
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